The Top 20 Most Unusual Restaurants In China (That We’d Never Find In America)

We can tell a lot about a country by what kind of food the locals eat. Sometimes, the best way to learn about new cultures and traditions is not by visiting ancient ruins, but instead eating at local restaurants. This is definitely true when it comes to China, a nation well-known for its incredible food and unique style of approaching every meal. Whether someone is in Shanghai, Beijing, Taijin, or any of the other major cities in China, there will definitely be quite a few wonderful restaurants to visit. And some of them are incredibly unusual. They might be staffed almost entirely by robots, cats, or dogs. They might feature amazing table-side performances that are almost surreal. They might offer food that tourists would never even consider eating. But above all else, all of these restaurants offer something that is impossible to find in America.

Scrolling through these restaurants might make readers want to visit China. In any case, it should be clear that we can learn from China in some cases, especially when it comes to their more technologically advanced and imaginative restaurants. Eating food doesn't have to be boring. It can be the most exciting part of someone's day, and the people from China definitely understand this.

20 Ultraviolet In Shanghai


Ultraviolet is unique, modern, breathtaking, and one of the most interesting restaurants in China. Located in Beijing, this restaurant is world famous for its stunning "multi-sensory" dining experience that includes taste, sound, smell, and sight. It's incredibly exclusive, only accepting ten customers each night. The walls are actually advanced screens that can display a variety of different scenes, from burning houses to serene waterfalls. It's one of the best dining experiences possible, and the food is as wonderful as what's going on around you.

19 Baoyuan Dumplings In Beijing 


If you ever find yourself in China, you simply have to try some of their dumplings. You may have eaten dumplings at your local restaurant in Chinatown, but nothing quite compares with getting this tasty meal right from the source. Any Beijing local will tell you that one of the best places to go for local, authentic dumplings is at Baoyuan Dumplings, located in the Liangmaqiao area. The thing that really sets these dumplings apart is their genius method of dying the dough with fruit and vegetables. The result is a colorful rainbow of tasty snacks.

18 Haichang Polar Ocean World Restaurant In Tianjin


China's Haichang Polar Ocean World is definitely an interesting attraction, but it's their restaurant that really takes the cake. As the image suggests, this restaurant is actually located underwater for the ultimate seafood dining experience. We've seen underwater hotels and restaurants in places like Dubai and other wealthy cities, but this might just be one of the most impressive examples of underwater luxury we've seen. It's probably one of the most unusual restaurants in this article, and seems to be an amazing experience.

17 TRB Forbidden City In Beijing 


The Forbidden City is one of the most unusual and enchanting locations in all of China, and it's one of those must-see attractions. Located in Beijing, the impressive palace is now open to the public, despite its name. The fact that the TRB restaurant is located right on the outskirts of the Forbidden City makes it interesting and unique, with windows that overlook the fabled walls where the Emperor used to live. Expect royal treatment when you visit this restaurant.

16 Friends Cafe In Beijing 


No, this isn't a behind the scenes photo from the series Friends. It's a real cafe in Beijing, and it's predictably called "Friends Cafe." As you can see, everything about the cafe has been meticulously recreated from the original set, and we have to admit that the creator got things spot on. That owner's name is Du Xin, and according to CNN, he dresses just like Gunther (the fictional owner of the cafe). He apparently studied very hard to get everything just right.

15 Quanjude In Beijing 


Ask any local where to go for real Peking Duck, and they'll probably mention Quanjude. With chains scattered throughout the big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, this restaurant is famous for perfecting the art of serving delicious Peking Duck. It's the national dish of China, so you pretty much have to try it if you visit. And why not get it from the people who have been making it since 1864? Yes, you read that right, this restaurant business is actually older than some countries.

14 Hello Kitty Bistro Bianco In Shanghai 


Would this list really be complete without a Hello Kitty themed cafe? Located in Shanghai, the Hello Kitty Bistro Bianco caters to people of all ages, although true fans of Hello Kitty will enjoy this place more than others. Perhaps the most unusual thing about this cafe is that most of the food is shaped like Hello Kitty, whether it be the donuts, the tiramisu, or the lattes. It's a quirky, fun addition to Shanghai that we definitely wouldn't see anywhere in America!

13 Country Kitchen In Beijing 


Many tourists have reported that while the food in Beijng is amazing, it sometimes feels a little repetitive. China's food can be drastically different from region to region. That's why the Country Kitchen in the Rosewood hotel is so unique – because it offers food that is extremely different than the classic Cantonese meals which are so common in Beijing. This is food from up north, and it's much heartier. They use a wood fired oven, and focus on what they call "lost recipes," Qing Dynasty foods that were thought to have been lost forever after the Maoist takeover.

12 Grandma's Rabbit Head Restaurant


Another restaurant that regularly ranks as one of the quirkiest and strangest in all of Beijing is Grandma's Rabbit Head Restaurant. This is one of the favorites for tourists to check out, because they serve a food that is pretty unusual – r abbit heads. This might seem strange to us, but it's actually considered a traditional snack in Beijing and in China. Visitors are given gloves so they may pick off the various morsels of meat from these sichaun-style rabbit heads, which includes the tongue and the brain. The cheek meat of these is said to be especially delicious.

11 Lv Bo Lang In Beijing 


If you thought Quanjude was old, wait until you hear about Lv Bo Lang. This restaurant business is over 400 years old. That's older than America. And to make it even more impressive, the original Lv Bo Lang restaurant still stands in Shanghai. You can also visit the other location in Beijing, but for the full experience you'll want to go to the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, where the building of the restaurant itself is just as impressive as what's inside. The mere fact that the restaurant is so old makes it unusual enough to visit.

10 Canil Cafe In Shanghai 


You've heard about cat cafes, but what about dog cafes? Well, if you can imagine it, it probably exists somewhere in China. The Canil Dog Cafe is hidden away in Shanghai. The dogs are well-behaved and love all the attention they receive, and you only have to spend a minimum of $7 to hang out with these pooches all day long. This is such a cool idea, and as far as we know, it's unlike anything in America.

9 Red Classics Restaurant In Beijing 


Red Classics restaurant is another slightly strange dining accommodation in Beijing, and this one is retro, in a manner of speaking. Everything has a very strong historical influence – from the red flags to the paintings of Chairman Mao on every wall. It's an interesting look into China's more extreme past, and there are even live performances. These performances feature a tractor smashing through a wall, according to CNNIt's a truly wild experience unlike anything you'd find in America.

8 Hai Di Lao In Beijing 


Hai Di Lao is probably one of the most tourist-friendly restaurants in China, and it won't break the bank either. Entertainment is obviously a huge focus here, often overshadowing the actual food itself. This is a chain of restaurants located in most major cities, most notably in Beijing. Servers will perform their famous "noodle dance" for you right at the side of the table, where they perform tricks with the long noodle dough. If that wasn't enough, the restaurant also offers various spa services while you wait for your food.

7 Robot Restaurant In Kunshan City


Would this list really be complete without a restaurant run entirely by robots? Okay, there are a handful of human employees. But for the most part, this is an entirely cybernetic dining experience, and one of the most advanced in the country. 15 robots cook and serve the food in this Robot Restaurant in Kunshan city. While this might seem like an interesting and unique place to eat, there's also a downside. These robots are literally taking jobs away from humans! And in most cases, they work harder and more efficiently...

6 More Than Toilet In Shanghai 


More Than Toilet In Shanghai is definitely one of the weirdest restaurants in this entire article – which is saying a lot. We're not sure how to explain this without ruining your appetite, so we hope you're not about to eat. This restaurant is entirely based on toilets. And all of the meals are themed around things you would find in a toilet... You get the picture. And if that wasn't enough to describe it, just take a look at the image above. Yep... For some reason this is incredibly popular all over China, with multiple locations including one in Shanghai.

5 Maoxiaoyuan In Beijing 


While cat cafes are slowly but surely becoming a global phenomenon, we're guessing that one hasn't popped up in your hometown – yet. But that can easily be fixed with a quick trip to Beijing, where there are quite a few cat cafes. One worth mentioning is Maoxiaoyuan. This cafe chain actually has three locations throughout the city, and apparently the food is pretty good – including waffles, pizza, cake, and of course, coffee. In most cases, the cats work in shifts, with 15 taking the floor at any given time.

4 Pyongyang Koryo In Shanghai 


We all know that North Korea is a strange place, and it seems like the entire nation is shrouded in mystery and unending theories. Well, there's an opportunity to get an inside look into the country without actually setting foot in its lands. We're talking about the Pyongyang Koryo in Shanghai, where all of the waitresses are North Korean women. The restaurant is also North Korea themed, with many visitors describing the experience as "bizarre," but undeniably entertaining. It's a strange restaurant that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

3 The Hot Box In Shanghai 


Those who love spicy foods owe to themselves to swing by the Hot Box in Shanghai. The name refers to its many spicy sauces, ranging from white hot to mildly smokey. This on completely different level to your local hot sauce section at the supermarket – in fact, it's the largest collection of hot sauces in all of China. These are not just hot sauces from China, but a collection from all around the world. While it's not exactly a restaurant, you can taste every single one of their sauces for free at a special tasting bar, and the staff is apparently eager to teach everyone about their many sauces.

2 99 Yurts In Beijing 


People often forget than like many countries, China is a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. A nation's cultural background is strongly reflected in their food, and this is no different in China. One group of people that will always have a strong influence in China are the Mongolians. These ancient Nomadic people once completely conquered China with the help of Genghis Khan. You can experience this culture to the fullest when you're in Beijing with a trip to 99 Yurts. As the name implies, this restaurant features a huge complex of yurts (Mongolian tents), and each dinner party gets their own private yurt. There is also traditional Mongolian music, singing and dancing, and of course Mongolian food.

1 Lotus Eatery In Shanghai 


On the outside, there's nothing too strange about the Lotus Eatery in Shanghai. This is a restaurant that might seem identical to most other eateries in China. But once you take a closer look at their menu, it becomes clear that this is unlike anything you will find in America. Fried insect is considered one of their signature dishes, as is cured Yak meat with mint leaves. Although that might sound a bit shocking to some readers, it's important to note that this is actually considered traditional food in the Shanghai region.

References: thebeijinger.com, chinahighlights.com, cnn.com, chinadaily.com.cn, inhabit.com, thebeijinger.com, travel.cnn.com, theculturetrip.com

More in Destinations